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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Human brucellosis: sero-prevalence and associated risk factors in agro-pastoral communities of Kiboga District, Central Uganda

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Gabriel Tumwine, Enock Matovu, John David Kabasa, David Okello Owiny, Samuel Majalija
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

GT, EM, SM, DOO and JDK were involved in the design of the study. GT, SM, DOO and EM supervised the fieldwork and laboratory work. GT, SM and EM participated and assisted in data analysis. GT, EM, SM, DOO and JDK assisted in manuscript write-up. All authors read the manuscript for final approval.

Authors’ information

GT is an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Biomolecular Resource and Biolaboratory Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity and a PhD student at Makerere University. His research interests are in infectious diseases and zoonoses in Sub-Saharan Africa. He holds a Master of Science in Molecular Biology and a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine.
EM is an Ass. Professor of Molecular Parasitology in the Department of Biotechnical and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, Makerere University. Worked as a Research Officer at the Livestock Health Research Institute, Tororo, Uganda. Main interest is in neglected infectious diseases with special interest in African Trypanosomiasis.
JDK is Professor and the Principal of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity at Makerere University and the founding Director of the Africa Institute for Strategic Animal Resource Services and Development (AFRISA). Professor Kabasa gained his PhD at Goettingen University in Germany and his veterinary medicine degree from Makerere University.
DOO is an Ass. Professor of Veterinary Reproduction in the Department of Biosecurity, Ecosystem and Veterinary Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity and Deputy Director (Administration) in Directorate of Research and Graduate training, Makerere University.
SM is a Ass. Prof in the Department of Department of Biosecurity, Ecosystem and Veterinary Public Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, Makerere University. SM is a Professor of Microbiology and focal person for One Health Program in East and Central Africa (OHCEA).



Brucellosis remains a neglected zoonotic disease among agro-pastoral communities where unprocessed milk and milk products are consumed. A cross-sectional study was carried out in Kiboga district to determine the seroprevalence and risk factors associated with human brucellosis in communities where livestock rearing in a common practice.


A total of 235 participants were involved in the study. Blood samples from the participants were collected and screened for Brucella using Serum Agglutination Test and Rose Bengal Plate Test. A questionnaire was used to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics and human brucellosis related risk factors.


Human Brucella seroprevalence was at 17.0 % (n = 235). The prevalence was highest among males (20.5 %, n = 78) and the elderly - above 60 years (22.2 %, n = 18). Residence in rural areas (OR 3.16, 95 % CI: 1.16–8.56), consuming locally processed milk products (OR 2.54, 95 % CI: 1.12–5.78) and being single (OR 2.44, 95 % CI: 1.05–5.68), were associated with increased risk of brucellosis.


Human brucellosis seroprevalence was high at 17 %, this was parallel with animal brucellosis prevalence that has been reported to range from 10.2 % to 25.7 % in cattle in the region. The participants were from communities known to habitually consume raw milk and milk products, know to process milk products using bare hands which are major risk factors for brucellosis in humans. This also explains why consumption of unpasteurized milk products was associated with the occurrence of brucellosis in study area. This strengthened the argument that humans get infected through consumption of contaminated animal products as reported in other earlier studies. Males and elderly being more affected because of traditional roles of these groups they play in livestock care and management. The single were also to be more associated to brucellosis, due to the fact that this group consume milk and milk products more as it is readily available in the informal markets as highly nutritious fast foods in this community as also observed in USA.


Brucellosis is highly prevalent in Kiboga district, and therefore, an important public health problem. The transmission risk was aggravated by consumption of unpasteurized milk products, residing in rural settings and being single. There is a need to initiate screening, treat infected humans early, and educate the public about risk factors and appropriate preventive measures of brucellosis.
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